Saquon Barkley sounds — and looks — prepared to reintroduce himself as one of the NFL’s top running backs in 2022.
From all accounts, Barkley looked explosive and shifty as he did prior to tearing his ACL in 2020, and battling through a high-ankle sprain during a mediocre 2021 campaign, during New York Giants mandatory minicamp this week.
“I think Saquon is a unique guy,” Giants head coach Brian Daboll told reporters. “You move him in different spots, that makes other guys have to learn other spots, too. It really falls on the five eligible receivers or the personnel groups you hope to utilize.”
Chosen No. 2 overall out of Penn State in 2018, Barkley rushed for just 593 yards with a pair of touchdowns last season, and hasn’t surpassed 1,000 rushing yards since the 2019 campaign.
However, in Daboll’s offense that relies heavily on running backs as playmakers in the passing game out of the backfield, Barkley just might be primed to return to form.
“He’s got good hands, Daboll pointed out. “He’s a good route runner, a good runner. Try to use him the best way we can.
“In terms of other running backs I have had. I wouldn’t compare them to any of the other guys I’ve had. Guys like Reggie Bush I had at Miami were good in the pass game.”
Over the past two seasons, Bills running back Devin Singletary and Zackary Moss combined to averaged 778 rushing yards while averaging 256 receiving yards and another score over that span.
Given Barkley’s versatility, and track record as a receiver during his time with the Nittany Lions, the Giants might finally utilize Barkley as a receiver out of the backfield, or even line him up in the slot from time to time this upcoming season.
The stage could be set for the fourth-year running back to post the strongest season of his career.
“I’ll tell you, I feel a lot better than I felt at this point last year,” Barkley told reporters this week. “Like you said, I was rehabbing. My body feels good. My body feels strong. Feel like I got my strength back. Feel like I got my speed back. Feel like I can trust my knee again, trust myself to make plays and not think about it.
“Even when you feel like you trust yourself, like actually going back and watching film, it correlates with how you feel and what you’re actually seeing, putting out there on the field.”
Note to readers: if you purchase something through one of our affiliate links we may earn a commission.